Religion

Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)

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A gothic sculpture of Augustine of Hippo on the Charles bridge in Prague. (Alice Fox/Getty Images)

No, it’s not just a Journey song (and the only good one, in my view; I would be fine with never hearing “Don’t Stop Believin’” ever again). From the very beginning of the Christian faith, followers of Jesus have been struggling with the relationship between the two worlds to which they are tied: the earthly, temporal one and the heavenly, spiritual one. And they have long been unsettled by the implications of His statement: “My kingdom is not of this world.” Or “unnerved,” as Russ Hittinger, senior research fellow at the Catholic University of America’s Institute for Human Ecology and co-director of CUA’s program on Catholic Political Thought, puts it.

So how should Christians make sense of this seemingly intractable problem? Guided by, among others, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Pope Leo XIII, Hittinger has attempted to divine the best approach. He outlined this approach last week in the first annual Lecture on Catholic Political Thought, sponsored by the Institute for Human Ecology (IHE) at CUA, the Project on Constitutional Originalism and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, and the Thomistic Institute. You can watch it here, or embedded below:

Hittinger drew the title for his lecture (“How to Inherit a Kingdom”), as well as much of its substance, from the works of Augustine. Calling himself a “separationist,” Hittinger referred not to the alleged separation between church and state that, he noted, the U.S. Constitution does not mention, but rather the separation between the political/temporal and the religious/spiritual that Christ achieved “as a dimension of his overcoming sin and death.” This was in contrast to a “pagan integralism” that saw no such separation between those two realms.

Christianity has been marked, ever since, by an enduring tension between these two worlds — and by an enduring temptation for Christians to make too much of the political. Politics is not always bad, and engagement with the political is necessary. But, Hittinger warned, it can be “dangerous, if it’s confused with a broken and exaggerated sense of immortality” sought in the temporal rather than in the spiritual.

The history of Christian thought shows this constant tension. In the aftermath of Rome’s fall, Augustine chastised his own followers for having thought that their salvation was in Rome. “But the Lord and his Ministers were preparing you to receive a divine kingdom that is not of this world,” Augustine said in a sermon at the time. “For your part, you prefer to grieve for the stones of Rome.” Aquinas wrote similarly, as did, much later, Pope Leo XIII and Joseph Ratzinger, both before and when he became Pope Benedict XVI.

All warned against excessive reliance on temporal institutions for the salvation of souls. Leo XIII went so far as to advise that “faith embodied in the conscience of the people, rather than restoration of medieval institutions, is the way to final victory.” Hittinger himself stressed that “if Christians are to fecundate the world, it cannot come by being united to the state, or becoming one with the reign of sin and death.”

Such teachings do not absolve Christians of engaging in the temporal world. The separation of which Hittinger speaks “would be an evil, if we were just talking about social things, marriage, family, polity, and so forth.” In this case, however, Hittinger was trying to figure out how “to inherit a kingdom,” a deeper question to which separation offers guidance. With his help, may we continue the journey to full understanding of the relationship between these two worlds, and may we never stop believing in the one to come.

Politics & Policy

Shame and No Shame

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John Profumo arrives for a service at Westminster Abbey, London, in 2003. (Reuters)

Reading about Herschel Walker and his “personal life” — to use a familiar euphemism — I thought of an antique word, and concept: “shame.” I’m not sure it has been uttered since Cotton Mather. Actually, it was uttered by Colin Powell in the mid-1990s, and thereafter.

A lot of people wanted him to run for president in 1996. Ultimately, he demurred, saying so in an announcement he made in November 1995. I was working at The Weekly Standard at the time. Many of us were gathered around a television, to watch the announcement. (That dates the thing.) Most of us were against Powell for president — maybe all of us were. We did not think he was conservative enough. Some of us were Gramm crackers (admirers of Senator Phil Gramm).

In the course of his remarks, Powell said that America needed to “restore a sense of shame.” It was stunning to hear this. An editor at the Standard — who had been opposed to a Powell presidential bid — applauded. He then said, “Run, Colin, run!”

As the years wore on, Powell returned to this subject of shame, at regular intervals. No one on the right today would consider him a conservative. He was certainly not a conservative in our current red–blue configuration. But in calling for the restoration of a sense of shame, he was deeply conservative.

In 1995 — the year of the speech I have mentioned — we were big on virtue and character and all that. We on the right, I mean. These were the Clinton years. We thought that Clinton and his coterie were shabby and shameful. (And this was pre-Lewinsky, mind you!) In 1993, William J. Bennett’s Book of Virtues had been a runaway hit.

A couple of memories from the 1980s, if you will indulge me. In mid-1987, Gary Hart had a little scandal involving a yacht named “Monkey Business.” Man, what a name! A gift to comedians, politicos, headline writers, and others. Hart was forced to withdraw from the presidential race (of the 1988 cycle). It all seems rather quaint now.

Later in 1987, Judge Douglas Ginsburg had to withdraw too. He had been nominated for the Supreme Court by President Reagan. But then it was revealed that he had smoked pot as an assistant professor at Harvard in the 1970s. That was enough to cook his nomination.

Can you imagine?

In the Clinton years — especially at their Lewinskyan apogee — Democrats lectured Republicans that Europeans — especially the French — were more mature than Americans. More mature where “personal” matters were concerned. Republicans tended to answer, “We don’t want to be like the Europeans. We don’t want to be like the French.”

President Clinton brazened out his scandals, showing that it could be done. You needed to be a very brazen politician — shameless — and you needed a compliant culture. But if you were brazen enough, and had a compliant culture . . .

Flash forward to the 2016 presidential campaign and Access Hollywood. There was the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, on tape, engaging in “locker-room banter,” as he would describe it. Sample: “I moved on her, actually. You know, she was down in Palm Beach. I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and f*** her. She was married.”

If Republican voters blinked, they didn’t blink twice. And Trump was elected.

Can a Republican presidential nominee pay hush money to a porn actress, and hush money to a Playboy bunny, and emerge unscathed? Emerge adulated? “Manifestly,” as Bill Buckley would say.

During the ’16 campaign, Colin Powell had a criticism: “Trump has no sense of shame.” By then, this was something like a foreign language, I think.

Herschel Walker has an extensive record: the illegitimate children, the abortion payment, the fabrications, etc.

Hang on a second: Speaking of foreign or antique words, such as “shame,” here is an antique expression, which I learned long ago from a woman born in the Taft administration: “There are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents.”

So, will Republicans blink over Herschel Walker? I doubt it. The wagons circled immediately. All over GOP Land, people “doubled down.” Senators Tom Cotton and Rick Scott will be in Georgia tomorrow to campaign for Walker. I’m not sure the revelations about the candidate will affect a single vote.

When you speak of right and wrong — to say nothing of shame — you are apt to be accused of “virtue signaling,” “moral preening,” and whatever else has shown up in the lexicon lately. But accusations are a dime a dozen, and if you can’t stand the accusations, get out of the kitchen.

I think the restoration of a sense of shame would be helpful in our society. I would not want to go the full Profumo. (Although I admire John Profumo tremendously.) I do not recommend hari-kari. If you required spotless records, you could not be able to people the government, or any other institution. Who ’scapes whipping, in this wretched world?

But a sense of shame is a societal asset, and I favor what Gertrude Himmelfarb called for, in a somewhat awkward phrase: the remoralization of society. Society, she said, had been de-moralized. So, remoralize it.

The Economy

Third-Largest Freight-Rail Union Rejects Deal Biden Celebrated

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Union Pacific Los Angeles Intermodal Facility rail yard in Commerce, Calif., September 15, 2022. (Bing Guan/Reuters)

The BMWED, the third-largest union representing freight-rail workers, announced today that its members have rejected the tentative agreement that President Joe Biden and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh celebrated last month.

The deal announced by Biden and Walsh was only tentative, and it still required ratification from union membership to go into effect. Only 43 percent of the nearly 12,000 BMWED workers who voted approved the deal. With that rejection, striking becomes a legal option for the BMWED on November 19. Both sides have agreed to maintain the status quo and continue negotiations in the meantime.

The BMWED is the first of the twelve unions covered by national bargaining to reject the tentative deal. Four smaller unions (the American Train Dispatchers Association, the IBEW, the Transportation Communications Union, and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen) have already voted to ratify the deal. If just one union goes on strike, though, it is highly unlikely that other union members would cross a picket line, which would mean a nationwide freight-rail shutdown.

The threat of such a shutdown was supposed to be averted last month, when Walsh and Biden announced they had helped broker a deal. Walsh emerged triumphant at five o’clock in the morning from a 20-hour session where he served negotiators Italian food and coaxed the two sides to agree, the press reports said. “This is a win for tens of thousands of rail workers and for their dignity and the dignity of their work,” Biden said last month of the tentative deal.

Enough of the workers don’t seem to agree. The BMWED represents around 24,000 workers, so about half of the union’s membership didn’t vote in the ratification election at all. But of the ones who did, more voted to reject than to approve the deal, and it was high turnout for a ratification vote, according to the BMWED statement.

It’s notable that the BMWED in particular rejected the deal. It earned specific concessions for its workers in the recommendations from the presidential emergency board (PEB) that served as part of the basis for the tentative agreement. Unlike many other specific union requests, the PEB recommended that the BMWED’s request for better coverage of travel expenses and higher meal allowances be included in the deal. Those concessions were included in the deal the union membership rejected.

Union president Tony Cardwell praised the deal at the time, noting, “It will put an end to the 65 year battle to bring BMWED Members travel allowances and away from home expenses to a rationally based structure.” Now Cardwell has changed his tune, saying in a statement today that rail workers “resent the fact that management holds no regard for their quality of life.”

The part of the deal concerning sick leave still seems to be a sticking point. The wage component includes a 24 percent raise over the five-year life of the contract, with $1,000 bonuses each year. That would be the largest wage increase in the history of national bargaining.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) emphasized the sick-leave component when he blocked a bill on the Senate floor that would have resolved the labor dispute. In praising the tentative agreement last month, Biden said the agreement is “about the right to go to a doctor or stay healthy and make sure you’re able to have the care you can afford.”

But as Rachel Premack reported for FreightWaves last month, the actual details of the agreement were still irking some rail workers. According to a copy of the agreement leaked to FreightWaves, “The medical care visits must take place on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and be scheduled at least 30 days in advance.”

That may seem like a small concession, but union leadership was still happy with it because it represented the first time that carriers had agreed that sick-leave policy was part of national bargaining. Previously, those policies had been determined through grievance and arbitration processes, which is where the PEB had recommended they stay. Making these policies an issue of national bargaining allows unions to extract greater concessions in the future.

But union membership rejected the deal anyway. Biden claims to be the “most pro-union president leading the most pro-union administration in American history.” If unions decide to shut down the freight-rail network despite being offered a 24 percent raise over five years in a deal brokered by the White House, that commitment might be put to the test.

Politics & Policy

‘They Stole That Last Election,’ Says Democratic Congressman

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Stolen-election rhetoric and attacks on the legitimacy of our elections, common currency of Democrats for two decades, still have not been shamed out of them by January 6. Witness Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (D., Texas) at an event last month:

Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, who’s running for re-election to Congress in the midterm elections, claimed during an event attended by House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., that a June special election in Texas was stolen by Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Texas, and her supporters. The remarks from Gonzalez came during a “vote blue” event at Shotz bar in Brownsville, Texas. . . . “Our democracy is at stake,” Gonzalez claimed. “There’s millions and millions of dollars from outside our region and outside our state that are coming here to try to steal our elections and take away your value and take away the process that we rely on, which is elections. . . . They stole that last election,” Gonzalez claimed. “They spent $3 million to our $250,000, they campaigned for two years, and they still only won by less than one percent. So, the way to turn this around is getting out and vote.”

Surely, Adam Schiff denounced this? Ha ha ha ha ha, of course not. To the contrary, Schiff praised Gonzalez — and the very fine people he hires — for “the work you’re doing to support our Democratic institutions, the infrastructure of our elections, the rule of law . . .” Because when national Democrats say “democracy,” they only mean that their side wins.

Politics & Policy

Mandela Barnes Admits He Backs Abortion through All Nine Months of Pregnancy

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U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes addresses the media at a campaign event in Green Bay, Wis., September 6, 2022. (James Oliphant/Reuters)

While some other 2022 Democratic Senate candidates are hiding behind a smokescreen and falsely claiming they support legal limits on abortion late in pregnancy, Wisconsin’s Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes openly admits he wants abortion allowed through all nine months of pregnancy. 

An exchange between National Review and Barnes on the campaign trail:

National Review: Lieutenant Governor, last night at the [Wisconsin Senate] debate, Ron Johnson said that you support abortion up until birth. You responded you support Roe. But what about after viability, when Roe said that there could be limits? Say at 23 weeks of pregnancy, if the pregnancy doesn’t pose a risk to the physical health of the mother — [the] baby’s healthy — should abortion be legal or illegal in those cases after viability? 

Mandela Barnes: It all goes back to this decision being made between a woman and her doctor. That’s as simple as it gets. 

International

China’s Semiconductor Industrial Policy Failures

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(HQuality Video/iStock/Getty Images)

One of the premises behind the CHIPS Act and its billions in subsidies for semiconductor firms is that the U.S. must avoid being overtaken by China’s state-directed semiconductor industry.

But the Chinese semiconductor industry is not the juggernaut that some in the U.S. believe it to be, according to George Calhoun in a recent interview with Discourse. Calhoun is a professor at Stevens Institute of Technology, a research university in New Jersey. Before becoming a professor, he worked in the technology industry for decades.

Here’s Calhoun on how China’s domestic industry remains woefully unable to meet its semiconductor needs:

China, today, still imports something like 90% of its requirements in the chip industry. It’s vital to them because they then turn around and assemble electronic goods. It’s a crucial element in their supply chain, but I think that 90% number, notwithstanding the hundreds of billions that you referenced, indicates that they are still not where they want to be and not where a lot of people in the United States sometimes fear they are.

Calhoun described the scale and ham-fistedness of China’s attempts at semiconductor industrial policy:

It’s a top-down, Soviet-style mandated, dump money on it, provide subsidies to one and all program. They have tried that more than once. In the latest round, Beijing has announced a new set of incentives for semiconductor companies. What happens is there are suddenly 10,000 or 15,000 semiconductor companies that yesterday were bending metal and maybe doing dry cleaning and goodness knows what, and suddenly they’re relabeling themselves as semiconductor companies. That is not the way the industry works.

You’re starting to see some of the crumbs falling off the table on the other side, too. I just read an article about the downturn that some of those companies are now running into in China. 3,000 of these semiconductor companies have declared bankruptcy in China. Just consider those numbers versus what the semiconductor industry looks like in the United States or in Korea or in Taiwan. There are not 10,000 companies; there are not 3,000 companies failing. It’s a much different structure of the industry. I think that those numbers—the 90% and the 10,000 and the 3,000—those kinds of numbers show you that China is definitely not where it wants to be.

The idea that the U.S. has been completely left out of semiconductors is not true, Calhoun said:

There’s an area that a lot of people don’t pay that much attention to, electronic design automation, EDA, which describes the critical software tools that are used by chip designers. Qualcomm or Nvidia, they are highly dependent on companies like Cadence and Synopsys to provide a software platform that allows them to design their chips.

Chip design is such a complicated business today that even the companies that do it for a living are themselves dependent on some of these key suppliers. Those key suppliers are all Western. Currently, the EDA industry is basically a U.S. industry, U.S.-based. I think those are also significant obstacles to the Chinese in terms of recreating the capability to be a top player in the semiconductor world and in any short period of time.

Calhoun said that the CHIPS Act could have some positive effects. “Perhaps in the scheme of things, to spend $50 billion to get people thinking about it and talking about it and taking a broader perspective in decision-making related to this industry is not a bad thing,” he said. He also thinks government could play a role in shifting incentives to lead to the manufacture of certain kinds of chips over others. But the idea that China’s semiconductor industrial policy has been a roaring success is not correct in his view.

You can read or listen to Calhoun’s entire interview here.

Still Just One Cheer for Kanye West

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Rapper Kanye West holds his first rally in support of his presidential bid in North Charleston, S.C., July 19, 2020. (Randall Hill/Reuters)

There are good reasons why Kanye West has millions of fans outside of politics. He’s been a creative musical force for two decades, and everyone from rap aficionados to rap-dislikers (I count myself in the latter camp) recognizes that he is a fantastically talented musician, maybe the most inventive in the history of rap. He’s won two dozen Grammys and sold over 150 million records.

There are also good reasons why conservatives have taken positive notice of Kanye’s periodic forays into right-leaning politics, from denouncing abortion’s effects on black Americans to boosting Donald Trump to trolling the Black Lives Matter organization

Sports

Re: Sooner Dead

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Mark, that’s all well said and well taken. I also didn’t in any way mean to communicate any hostility to football fans in Oklahoma in general. For instance, Oklahoma State is putting together a truly fine season, for which it should be saluted.

Politics & Policy

We’re Facing Nuclear Armageddon, and, by the Way, It’s Trump’s Fault

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We have an editorial up on Biden’s Armageddon talk, urging the president to “give up his long-standing opposition to more robust U.S. missile defenses. Indeed, it is insane that a president of the United States is talking about nuclear Armageddon and we aren’t engaged in a crash program to fortify our defenses.”

Also, I hadn’t focused on the very last part of Biden’s remarks, which is a choice bit of completely unjustified partisan finger-pointing:

We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis. We’ve got a guy I know fairly well. . . . He is not joking when he talks about the potential use of tactical and nuclear weapons, or biological or chemical weapons, because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming.

I don’t think there’s any such thing as an ability to easily lose a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon. . . . I didn’t realize how much serious damage the previous administration did to our foreign policy.

There are legitimate criticisms of Trump’s conduct of our foreign policy, but it’s ridiculous to argue that he somehow set the precedent for Putin launching a failed war of aggression in Ukraine and now potentially trying to nuke his way out of it.

National Review

Don’t Wait ’Til Next Year

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Jacob deGrom, New York Mets (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)

For New York Mets fans, among whose sad company I count myself, last night’s ending of the 2022 season was sufficiently bitter that it is hard to process the perennial siren song of renewed hope: “Wait ’til next year!” Especially not when so much of the team’s fortunes are tied up in two brittle pitchers who will be 38 and 35 next year (Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom), other key members of the pitching staff are headed to free agency and yet to re-sign, and a number of players had seasons they will be hard-pressed to repeat.

But here at National Review, there is always a next year, you don’t have to wait for it, and we are always bringing along new talent and prepared to repeat what we did last year. We’d like to sign up more readers, and renew existing readers, right now. That’s why we’re offering 60 percent off subscriptions to NRPlus. Subscribers don’t just get full access to the website without paywalls: You get online access to the magazine, vastly fewer ads that interrupt the site’s loading and reading experience, and opportunities to comment and to engage with our writers in our Facebook group and periodic in-person and telephonic subscriber-only events. And our mission remains the same as it has been in good years and bad for the conservative movement: in times of electoral and cultural victory and defeat, and in times of unity and times of division and debate.

Our roster is not just standing still. Whether it is podcasts, video features, NR Wire, or the work of columnists and editors or those joining us for shorter tenures as fellows and interns, NR always has an impressive crop of young writers coming along — just as it did when William F. Buckley started the magazine just before his 30th birthday, or back in the Nineties when Buckley hired a couple of promising youngsters named Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru. Look around our front page and see William F. Buckley fellow, Navy veteran, and Wisconsinite Luther Abel, news writer Brittany Bernstein, the indescribable Jack Butler, news editor Jack Crowe, education reporter Caroline Downey, staff writer and New Right specialist Nate Hochman, our fearless and indefatigable gender-beat writer Madeleine Kearns, ISI fellow Bobby Miller, Public Interest fellow Evan Myers, supply-chain expert and Rhodes fellow Dominic Pino, national-security correspondent and China expert Jimmy Quinn, media and enterprise reporter Isaac Schorr, and podcast manager and writer on delightful books Sarah Schutte — and more you’ll be hearing from soon. That’s a bumper crop of talent, ranging from the new arrivals to those who have become familiar fixtures to NR readers. It’s NR’s subscriber base that allows us to continue this, generation after generation.

So subscribe or renew now. Your support is essential to what we do, it’s a good deal for you, and it ensures that neither the readers nor the writers and editors of National Review need to worry about the team we will have on the field next year.

Sports

Sooner Dead

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Oklahoma Sooners head coach Brent Venables during the game against the Texas Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl. Dallas, Texas, Oct 8, 2022. (Kevin Jairaj/ USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

In response to Mark, You Okay?

There are lines near then end of “Boomer Sooner” — the University of Oklahoma’s iconic fight song:

I’m a Sooner born and a Sooner bred
and when I die, I’ll be Sooner dead
Rah Oklahoma, Rah Oklahoma
Rah Oklahoma, OK U!

Like all true Okies, I was raised to love this team until I die.

Well, Rich, turns out it killed me.

Will things get better? Yes. Indubitably.

Oklahoma invented championships. Oklahoma invented winning. We’ll be back. We’ll set things right. And when we do, we’ll bury Texas. As per tradition.

Politics & Policy

The Crenshaw Youth Summit

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I was down in Houston for Dan Crenshaw’s event over the weekend and had a terrific time.

Crenshaw puts on this event every year with great care, and it shows. The list of speakers was excellent, the production values superb, and the young people impressive. It’s important that we ground the rising generation in sound conservative philosophy and arm it with the best arguments, and the Youth Summit is an essential contribution to those efforts.

The Other Democratic President Missing from the Campaign Trail

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Then-President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden in the Rose Garden at the White House, 2015 (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

I have noted that so far, President Biden hasn’t really appeared with Democratic candidates at rallies and joint events this autumn. (One event scheduled with Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist was canceled because of the hurricane.) CNN notes that former president Barack Obama will not be appearing on the trail as much as some Democrats would like, either:

Requests for Barack Obama are pouring in from Democrats around the country – candidates are desperate for his help in what they feel is an existential midterms battle, one in which each race could help determine control of Congress and governments in the states.

To these candidates, American democracy

Elections

When Inflation Meets Dobbs

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A visiting school group walks along the plaza at the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., February 22, 2022. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

Politico Playbook has an item on whether the Dobbs effect is fading. It notes that the improved Democratic standing during the summer wasn’t entirely because of Dobbs to begin with:

What clouds the picture is that the much-discussed improvement for Democrats since the Dobbs decision also coincided with a 99-day drop in gas prices. Now, gas prices are rising and, despite a good jobs report on Friday, the news is filled with gloomy headlines about the economy. “Confidence slumps around the globe as cost of living crisis bites,” said the FT over the weekend. “Fed’s Inflation Fight Has Some Economists Fearing an Unnecessarily Deep Downturn,” reads a gloomy headline in the WSJ. “The job market is still strong, but the long-expected slowdown has begun,” notes the NYT this morning.

It then notes a story on the Nevada senate race, where Adam Laxalt is running quite strong:

The AP’s Steve Peoples’ headed to Nevada and kicked the tires of Democratic Sen. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO’s campaign to find out whether the vulnerable incumbent had placed too big a bet on Dobbs saving her candidacy. “Nevada Senate race tests potency of abortion focus for Dems” is the headline, and we imagine you will see several versions of this piece pegged to races around the country in the coming days.

The lede: “Democrats predicted abortion would be Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s saving grace. But inside Nevada’s crowded union halls, across its sun-scorched desert towns and on the buzzing Las Vegas strip, there are signs that outrage over the Supreme Court’s decision to dismantle abortion rights may not be enough to overcome intensifying economic concerns.

“That’s leaving Cortez Masto as the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrat in the final month of a volatile midterm election year. Her predicament is the starkest example of the challenge facing Democrats nationwide as they try to capitalize on anger over the abortion ruling while Republicans focus on crime and stubborn inflation. If Cortez Masto can’t turn things around, the GOP would be well on its way to netting the one seat they need to retake the Senate and blunt the final two years of President Joe Biden’s term.

“In an interview, Cortez Masto sidestepped questions about her fragile political standing. She acknowledged ‘there’s more work to be done’ on the economy in a working-class state in which gasoline remains over $5.40 per gallon, the unemployment rate is higher than the national average and spending at casinos has not kept pace with inflation.”

And don’t miss this quote from JAMES CARVILLE that will be widely circulated today among Dems:

“‘A lot of these consultants think if all we do is run abortion spots that will win for us. I don’t think so,’ said Carville, a vocal Cortez Masto ally who has sent dozens of fundraising emails on her behalf. ‘It’s a good issue. But if you just sit there and they’re pummeling you on crime and pummeling you on the cost of living, you’ve got to be more aggressive than just yelling abortion every other word.’

Dobbs definitely has had a more long-lasting political effect than I would have expected, but it’s still hard to see it overwhelming the top-of-mind economic issues in November.

Economy & Business

Today in Capital Matters: Hyman Minsky

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Desmond Lachman writes about the regularity of credit cycles:

It might seem cliché to say that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, but the adage is particularly pertinent to today’s Federal Reserve. Seeming to have learned little from the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in September 2008, the Fed is now tightening monetary policy at a rapid pace, at a time when the world is as indebted as it has ever been. It is also doing so when clear signs are emerging that major debtors are having trouble servicing their debts, and equity bubbles are bursting.

The late American economist Hyman Minsky taught that there was a regularity to credit cycles that always ends in tears. Many years of financial stability and low interest rates induce investors to take on excessive risk, lenders to make increasingly risky loans, and borrowers to take on too much leverage. That sets the stage and, eventually, euphoria gives way to panic when interest rates are increased or when the economy succumbs to recession, leaving debtors to service their debt mountains.

Read the whole thing here.

Education

The Enormous Problem of University Leadership

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With only a few exceptions, American colleges and universities suffer from poor leadership. Most presidents and chancellors are get-along types who never confront the ideologues who are intent on turning their schools into factories for the propagation of “progressive” notions. Have any said “no” to demands for burgeoning “diversity” offices? I don’t believe so.

Recently, the UNC Board of Governors held a meeting to consider the leadership problem, and in today’s Martin Center article, Jay Schalin and Ashlynn Warta write about it.

The authors begin, “One of the most important tasks of a public university system is choosing the leaders of its individual institutions. Because these leaders are at the center of all campus activities, they wield tremendous power; they are the ones who set the campus tone and oversee the day-to-day operations. A university system needs to make sure it has the proper criteria for deciding who is to run its institutions, updating the criteria often as prior weaknesses get exposed and the academic environment changes.”

Did the UNC BOG make any headway in setting the ideal criteria for choosing academic leaders? Not much. A fair amount of time was squandered on presentations by “stakeholders” who like things pretty much as they are.

Schalin and Warta offer the view that the most astute observation came from committee chairman David Powers, who said that a good academic leader is more like the mayor of a city than the CEO of a business.

“What makes a good college chief executive?” the authors ask. “If you look in media, consultant, and academic circles, you will receive an avalanche of platitudes and warm, fuzzy word salad. But today’s successful candidate needs, most of all, to have great intestinal fortitude and the confidence to stand his or her ground in a controversy. Too many current chancellors and presidents are cut from a different mold; they are likely to cut and run at the first sight of confrontation, or they will try to appease radical elements so they won’t cause trouble (even though they eventually do so).”

That hits upon the root of the problem — the kinds of people who are almost always recommended by experts and search firms are unlikely to have the right vision for a college or university.

Sports

Mark, You Okay?

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The Red River Showdown was a little lopsided this year:

49: The 49 points are the most the Longhorns have scored in the series. It’s also Texas’ largest margin of victory over Oklahoma. The previous high was 33 points done in 1941 and 2005.

30: After losing 55-24 last week and 49-0 this week, Oklahoma has now lost consecutive games by 30 points or more for the first time in program history. This was the 24th time Oklahoma lost by 30 or more.

311: The last time Oklahoma was shut out came Nov. 7, 1998. Saturday’s loss ends a streak of 311 consecutive games for Oklahoma without being held scoreless. Texas last shut out Oklahoma in 1965.

167: Oklahoma had scored an offensive touchdown in 167 straight games. That was the longest active streak in FBS. It’s a far cry from the offensive powerhouse OU has been in previous years. The Sooners produced two Heisman Trophy-winning QBs in the past six years.

1945: The loss Saturday is now the worst shutout loss in OU history. It supplants a 47-0 loss to Oklahoma State in 1945.

Even UVa managed to score at least a few points this weekend. 

Europe Starts to Take Another Look at Fracking

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Liz Truss gestures outside the Conservative Party headquarters after being announced as Britain’s next Prime Minister in London, England, September 5, 2022. (Phil Noble/Reuters)

As I mentioned in the most recent Capital Letter, Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, has lifted the ban on fracking introduced in the Johnson years. But before cracking out the champagne, it’s worth noting that merely allowing fracking does not mean that it will take place. To start with, in addition to the usual objections from climate warriors and other greens, many locals will object to the dislocation that fracking might bring to their parts of the country. Not only is the U.K. more crowded than some of the areas in which fracking takes place over here, but there

National Review

Life Comes at You Fast

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(Vito Palmisano/iStock/Getty Images)

Just the other day, a friend told me that the time had come to renew his NRPlus subscription. Always curious to get feedback from a real-world subscriber, I asked what, specifically, he valued about the National Review experience.

My friend mentioned Charlie’s new podcast, the new and improved NR app, and the burgeoning new additions to NR’s YouTube channel. But when push comes to shove, what drew him to NR — what caused him to re-up his subscription — was the fact NR writers are free to disagree with each other.

You see, that freedom is interesting. And it’s increasingly rare. If you doubt me, take a quick ten minutes to cruise the Web and visit the websites of outfits on both the left and the right. You’ll see a company line — with departures few and far between.

I sometimes chuckle when Twitter trolls compare side-by-side screen shots of NR writers arguing the opposite sides of a position. “Life comes at you fast,” they squeal, as if they’ve caught NR in a major own goal when Michael Brendan Dougherty presents the nuances of one side of the war in Ukraine, while Jim Geraghty or I present the other.

Yes, actually — that’s the point. The whole point.

National Review is both an institution with an expressed viewpoint and a forum for discussion. We have a company line — but we don’t require you to fall in line. Just witness Andy McCarthy and Charlie Cooke’s dissents from the editorial written in general support of Lindsey Graham’s proposed 15-week upper limit on abortion in America. At NR, you’re free to, for example, criticize Trump, argue he’s the best path forward for conservatives, or present a third way.

Some find this type of thing scandalous. We find it entirely normal to argue with each other, strenuously but in good faith. We’ll fight it out in print, and online, and on NR podcasts. And then we’ll go have a beer and discuss it all some more. In contrast to our critics, we don’t believe that disagreement and debate are oppression or “violence” — it’s just Americans being American.

The NR model is unique. We’re not owned by or controlled by any individual or any group of donors. We don’t live in fear of companies pulling their ads from our magazine or the website. The editors and writers of National Review report to our board of directors and to our subscribers — no one else. That gives us great leeway to speak the truth as we see it, when we see it, every time. And when we disagree with each other, well, we disagree with each other.

The way this works — the way it’s always worked — is by cultivating a broad group of Americans, from every state and region, as subscribers. We’ve been doing this for 67 years — starting back when there were just the three TV networks, a couple of center-left national papers and magazines, and National Review.

At NR, we’re committed to that subscriber-based model, and we’re in this for the long haul. If you see value in the project, please join us.

Right now you can get an NRPlus subscription for 60 percent off.

That’s an incredible bargain, and you’ll get full access to all National Review content online, with no paywall or annoying pop-up ads.

And during this subscription drive, you can also level up with the NRPlus bundle, which will get you 24 issues of the print magazine as well, all at that same 60 percent discount.

World

On War and Peace and Freedom

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A woman walks near a damaged church in the town of Sviatohirsk, Donetsk Region, Ukraine, October 1, 2022. (Vladyslav Musiienko / Reuters)

“Peace” is such “a slippery word and concept.” I have quoted from the subtitle of an essay I wrote, long ago. The essay was adapted from a book of mine, Peace, They Say, a history of the Nobel Peace Prize. I very much appreciated what John Bolton said, in his review for The Weekly Standard: The book was not only a history but also a “philosophical reflection on the nature of ‘peace’ in modern times.”

This year, two great organizations and one great man have won the Nobel Peace Prize. The man is Ales Bialiatski, a Belarusian political prisoner. I first wrote about him, and other Belarusian freedom advocates, in 2011 (here). One of the organizations is Memorial, the Russian human-rights group that was outlawed by the Kremlin last year. I wrote about Memorial shortly after (here).

The second organization? The Center for Civil Liberties, in Ukraine. Its director is Oleksandra Matviichuk, a Ukrainian human-rights lawyer. I interviewed her last Monday, when she came to New York for a session of the Oslo Freedom Forum. On Friday, the prize for her center — and Memorial and Bialiatski — was announced.

On the homepage, I have excerpts from our interview (here). And I would like to highlight one answer. I asked Ms. Matviichuk, “How important to Ukraine is the support of the United States?” She answered,

I am trying to find the word in English. I know it in Ukrainian. It’s extremely important, tremendously important. I am a human-rights lawyer who knows pretty well the U.N. system, the EU system, the Council of Europe system, etc. I have had a lot of experience in different international legal systems. And there is no mechanism, no legal instrument, that can liberate even one person from Russian captivity. The Russians kill us, and the United States provides us weapons. Maybe all this is weird to hear from a human-rights lawyer, but I want our people to survive, and that’s why we are grateful for the United States, and why we ask for long-range weapons in sufficient amounts, because now we have a window of opportunity to liberate more Ukrainian territories, as we have been doing since September of this year.

Are those the words of a peace laureate? Or of the director of an organization that is a peace laureate? Those are the words, certainly, of a realist — and of someone who desires the kind of peace worth having.

This is a big, big subject, wrestled with by mankind since the beginning. Allow me to quote a little from the above-mentioned essay, about peace, or “peace,” and its slipperiness:

There are people who think that nothing is worse than war, that war is the worst thing in all the world. Said Benjamin Franklin, “There was never a good war or a bad peace.” In 1938, Clive Bell, the Bloomsbury figure, said, “A Nazi Europe would be, to my mind, heaven on earth compared with Europe at war.” As a rule, peace is better than war, sure. But it can get a little tricky: Which is worse, genocide in Sudan (or elsewhere) or some war whose purpose is to put an end to it? But then you might say, a condition of genocide is not a condition of peace in the first place.

You are familiar with the slogan, “War is not the answer.” But it is the answer to some questions, of course — as when it put paid to Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Emerson said, “Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.” A fine sentiment, but unfortunately not true — or not strictly true.

A little more:

During the Cold War, those words, peace and freedom, were used a lot — more than in most eras. Soviet officials were very, very big on “peace.” If Western countries called themselves “freedom-loving nations,” the Soviets referred to themselves and their bloc as “peace-loving nations.” Touché! The World Peace Council was one of the most prominent Communist fronts. The Soviets named their space station “Mir,” meaning Peace (and also World). What the Americans had was Space Station Freedom — which after the collapse of the Soviet Union evolved into the International Space Station, in which Russia collaborated.

Maybe a speck more:

Margaret Thatcher said, “We speak of peace, yes, but whose peace? Poland’s? Bulgaria’s? The peace of the grave?” And I give you a leader from a much earlier period, Hungary’s Kossuth: “I am a man of peace — God knows how I love peace. But I hope I shall never be such a coward as to mistake oppression for peace.”

There is scarcely a more important subject than peace and freedom, war and peace, war and peace and freedom . . . The heading of my interview with Oleksandra Matviichuk is “Freedom Fighter.” She is. But where does peace enter into it? Since 2014, she has interviewed hundreds of people, hundreds of Ukrainians, who have been trapped in territories occupied by Russian forces. She has heard the horrors they have been through. She has seen their maimed bodies. (One woman had her eyes gouged out with a spoon.) Ms. Matviichuk has one aim in mind: the peace that will come only when the invader, and would-be destroyer, is repelled.

She says,

. . . we are fighting for freedom in all senses: the freedom to be an independent state, not a colony of Russia; the freedom to be Ukrainians, to have our own language and culture, as other nations of the world do; the freedom to have a democratic choice — a chance to build a country where the judiciary is independent, human rights are protected, the government is accountable, and the police serve the people.

Such an interesting woman — and such an interesting prize, the Nobel Peace Prize. You could write any number of books on it.

Culture

Mysteries Linger as Rings of Power Nears the End of Its First Season

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Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Prime Video)

Last week’s episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power renewed my wavering interest in the show. This week’s episode primarily focuses on the aftermath of last week’s events, in which the volcano we know as Mt. Doom erupted, transforming the verdant Southlands into the Mordor we know and, er, hate. Things begin in medias res, as Galadriel, last seen staring wordlessly into an oncoming pyroclastic flow, awakens in an ash-covered, red-orange landscape (made all the more striking given the relative paucity of either color in the show thus far). The opening minutes show the graphic carnage left in the eruption’s wake. Some characters survive this rattled but fine, while other are more permanently damaged (now we know why the father of Númenorean ruler Miriel warned her why “darkness” awaited her in Middle-earth), and the fates of others remain unknown.

Much of this week’s episode centers on the unlikely pairing of Galadriel and Theo, the young Southlander. The two of them, haphazardly united after the eruption, journey through the smoke and ruin searching for the Númenorean camp. Interacting with him, Galadriel is subdued, even somber — she has clearly changed, blaming herself for the catastrophe, and urging Theo to abandon thoughts of vengeance. A highlight of their journey is a tense sequence in which they hide from marauding orcs. Through it all, a chastened Galadriel struggles with a very familiar dilemma: If there truly are greater powers guiding the course of events, are their designs evident in adversity, even calamity? In these and other ruminations, Galadriel begins to show a wisdom, born of failure, more befitting the figure we know she will eventually become.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Middle-earth, intrigue continues between elves and dwarves. Elrond formally requests mithril of dwarven king Durin III, who declines despite the entreaty of Durin’s son (who is also Elrond’s friend). When Elrond and Durin IV go prospecting for the mythical mineral, which a previous episode established as (allegedly) the key to keeping elves from fading to nothingness, against the dwarf king’s wishes, Elrond is banished, and the two Durins have a dramatic falling-out. Of fittingly Tolkienian significance amid this back-and-forth is a single leaf, from the elf-kingdom of Lindon. Apparent proof of the elves’ fading light, it seems to be restored by proximity to mithril, inspiring Durin IV to try to help his elvish friend. And then, near the episode’s end, it drifts deep into a mithril cavern, where it is consumed by the flames of a balrog.

That leaves us with the harfoots, whose storyline continues to be the show’s weakest. The Stranger does something magically chaotic again, this time finally forcing him out of harfoot company (though they later realize he was trying to help; not only is the tree he tried to heal restored, but so also is the entire grove which the harfoots had initially found barren). But the mysterious cultists who seem to be pursuing him have nearly caught up with him; Nori, who seems to be a real idiot, confronts them, and they burn the harfoots’ entire caravan in retaliation. Then Nori, Sadoc, and some of the only other interesting harfoots decide to go on a journey to reconnect with the Stranger. Though I quite enjoy Daniel Weyman’s portrayal of the Stranger, who seems to be some kind of spiritual being getting acclimated to a physical form, and I also like his musical theme, the harfoot saga has really struggled to be of interest to me so far. I have a hard time seeing how it can get much better with only one episode to go (though I’d be happy to be proven wrong).

The harfoots’ story illustrates one of the main overarching questions I have about the show’s quality. A lot of characters are engaging in, at best, questionable behavior, with their emotions or other factors seeming to manipulate them to do things they otherwise ought not to. Each time this happens, it makes me wonder if their behavior is being endorsed, or if it is being set up as folly. Galadriel’s relentless drive to the Southlands, for example, has been proven as folly, the revelation of which has made her story the best part of the show so far. But when it comes to the elves of Lindon, I don’t really credit the explanation about mithril being this mysteriously restorative mineral the elves need to stop from fading. This, and the way Durin IV (and Disa) are motivated to help Elrond, both feel like forms of manipulation (unwitting or not) that take advantage of characters’ emotions for some uncertain end. And the way the harfoots keep indulging Nori’s idiocy likewise seems contrived enough that it’s possible I’m supposed to wonder if it’s stupid. (Though of these lingering threads, the harfoot one seems the likeliest to be ultimately chalked up simply to bad writing.)

So as the first season of The Rings of Power comes to a close, I am waiting for some of these lingering mysteries and threads to be wrapped up. This episode moved us closer to a point where that might happen in a satisfactory manner, but with so much to conclude, I have my doubts that I’ll get all the answers I am looking for, even if I do get some of them. We’ll know soon enough.

The Entirely Predictable Failure of California High-Speed Rail

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California’s proposed high-speed rail train (Concept image via California High-Speed Rail Authority)

An article in today’s New York Times gives people on the left permission to say something people on the right have been saying for years: California’s high-speed rail project is an epic boondoggle.

The complete failure of the project should have been obvious to anyone. Originally projected to cost $33 billion when it was approved in 2008, it is now estimated to cost $113 billion and may never be completed. The goal was to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles by rail in under two hours and 40 minutes, but the only segment currently under construction is in the Central Valley, nowhere

Politics & Policy

New Study Shows the Negative Impact of Chemical Abortion

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Pills of Misoprostol, used to terminate early pregnancies, are displayed in a pharmacy in Provo, Utah, May 2022. (George Frey/Reuters)

Supporters of legal abortion often argue that few women who obtain abortions either suffer emotionally or regret their abortion decision. However, a new study provides powerful evidence that a significant percentage of women who obtain chemical abortions actually do experience feelings of regret. This study, commissioned by the group Support After Abortion and conducted by Shapard Research, also found that a significant percentage of women who had chemical abortions sought help afterwards.

Specifically, the study found that 34 percent of women who obtained chemical abortions said that their outlook on themselves or their decision changed negatively since their abortion. Twenty-four percent reported that they searched for help after their abortion experiences. An additional 39 percent of women did not seek help but said that they could have benefited from talking to someone. Overall, while some women who obtained chemical abortions experienced relief, others said the experience was more painful, physically and emotionally, than they had anticipated. Even more concerning was that 82 percent of the women who had obtained chemical abortions did not know where get help afterwards

Some research on the psychological impact of abortion receives criticism for relying on volunteer participants who often have strong opinions about either their own abortion experience or the legality of abortion. However, one of the strengths of this particular study was its rigorous research design. It conducted a random sample of over 14,000 women to identify 114 women who obtained chemical abortions. It analyzes a more representative sample of women who obtained chemical abortions than do other studies that rely on volunteers.

The RU-486 chemical-abortion pill was approved by the FDA in the year 2000. Since then, the number of chemical abortions has grown dramatically. According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2020 more than half of all abortions were chemical abortions. Furthermore, this percentage is likely to increase. The Biden administration’s FDA is allowing women to obtain chemical abortions without an in-person medical exam. Furthermore, supporters of legal abortion are trying to circumvent the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision by sending chemical-abortion pills to women through the mail.

Give that, more research on the mental-health impact of chemical abortions is needed. This research would be helpful to both women considering chemical abortions and pro-life groups that counsel post-abortive women. Overall, this methodologically rigorous study makes a nice contribution. It provides strong statistical evidence that feelings of regret are common among women who obtain chemical abortions.

Britain’s Energy Mess: Rough and Unready

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Skyline of London, England (SHansche/Getty Images)

In the latest Capital Letter, I wrote about the possibility that the U.K. might face blackouts this winter. It’s hardly the only European country to be in this position, but with its combination of climate fundamentalism and botched planning (but I repeat myself), the U.K. has been, along with Merkel’s Germany, something of a standout. It’s important to note that the country’s approach to climate policy was something that enjoyed (and enjoys) wide cross-party support. The decision to press ahead to net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050 was waved through without costing or opposition. Theresa May saw it as a glorious

Oregon Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate’s Ties to Sex Offender-Linked Ally Raise Further Questions about Her Record

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Tina Kotek speaks during Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 25, 2016. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Tina Kotek, the Democratic candidate for Oregon governor — and until relatively recently, the presumptive front-runner in a state that has not had a Republican governor since 1987 — is in trouble: In the past few weeks, four consecutive polls have shown Kotek’s Republican opponent, Christine Drazan, leading the field by a narrow margin. Standard red-wave conditions, widespread dissatisfaction with a deteriorating quality of life after decades of one-party rule, an outgoing Democratic governor (and close Kotek ally) who has routinely polled as the least popular chief executive of any state in the country, and the presence of an unusually

Woke Culture

Please Don’t Let the ‘Progressives’ Ruin Classical Music

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The Left’s “long march through the institutions” has reached classical music, which is under fire for somehow promoting whiteness and other imaginary crimes against humanity. Among the complaints is that whites and Asians are “overrepresented” in orchestras while blacks and Hispanics are “underrepresented.” The proposed solution? End blind auditions so that race will be taken into account when making orchestral decisions. Do it the way colleges do their admissions!

If you think that’s a terrible idea, so does John McWhorter. He is Glenn Loury’s guest on this lively podcast.

McWhorter has sharp words for white activists who want to think they’re helping.

Politics & Policy

Cori Bush’s Forced Abortion Story

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Rep. Cori Bush (D., Mo.) questions Attorney General Merrick Garland during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Department of Justice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., October 21, 2021. (Greg Nash/Pool via Reuters)

My colleague, Isaac Schorr, wrote about Democratic representative Cori Bush’s revelation to PBS’s Margaret Hoover that she was forced to complete an abortion against her will. From Isaac’s report:

“So I said ‘No, you know what, I’m not ready.’ And the nurse just, you know, wouldn’t listen to me. And I said ‘No, I’m not ready.’ And as I’m saying ‘No,’ they continue to pull the instruments and you know, get everything ready. And it was just like ‘No, calm down, no, you’re going to be okay,’” she continued.

“They absolutely ignored me, even to the point of, you know, like, ‘Calm down’ as if I was the problem,” recalled Bush, who said that she continued to tell the staff  “no,” as they performed the procedure itself.

What’s strange is that Bush’s takeaway from this story is not the obvious affront to her pro-choice convictions. It’s not exactly a choice if it’s being forced on you, is it? It’s odd that she could experience something like this and still be vehemently pro-abortion.

Her takeaway, rather, is racism. As she sees it, the medical staff assumed that she couldn’t be taken seriously because she is black. She overlooks another possible scenario — that the abortion staff wanted her to complete the procedure they profit from. And didn’t particularly care about her feelings on the matter. Which, again, might make one less inclined to take the stand that Bush does on abortion.

Health Care

Euthanasia for PTSD Completes ISIS Terroristic Act

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(Pixabay)

A woman who survived an ISIS bombing in Brussels uninjured has been euthanized because of the PTSD the terrorism caused. From the Daily Mail story:

Shanti De Corte, 23, was walking through the departures lounge of the Belgian airport in Zaventem on March 22, 2016 with her school classmates ahead of a trip to Italy when Islamic State terrorists detonated a bomb.

The then 17-year-old escaped the explosion, which together with two other detonations claimed 32 lives and injured more than 300, without suffering any physical wounds.

But the psychological effects of the ordeal left her wracked by constant panic attacks and bouts of dark depression from which she never managed to emerge.

Despite attending a psychiatric hospital in her home town of Antwerp for rehabilitation and taking a range of anti-depressant medications, Shanti was unable to shake the spectre of depression and attempted suicide on two different occasions in 2018 and 2020.

Earlier this year, the troubled young woman opted to be euthanised — a procedure which is legal in Belgium, and died on May 7, 2022 after two psychiatrists approved her request.

In other words, we could say that the psychiatrists completed the terroristic act that ISIS started when it bombed the airport. (No word on whether De Corte’s organs were harvested, which sometimes is conjoined with euthanasia of the mentally ill and depressed because their organs are considered very viable.)

This is only the latest of many examples of Belgian psychiatrists opting to kill depressed patients rather than help them struggle on.

  • Godelieva de Troyer was euthanized by an oncologist as a treatment for her severe depression. Her son, Th0mas Mortier, first heard of the killing when he was called by the hospital morgue to pick up his mother’s body. He sued in the European Court of Human Rights and gained a partial victory that Belgium had not conducted a proper investigation of the homicide.
  • Nathan Verhelst, distraught at the results of transition surgery, was lethally injected as a palliative for his anguish.
  • An anorexic patient whose own psychiatrist sexually predated her was euthanized by a different psychiatrist because of the trauma of the abuse.
  • An elderly woman was euthanized for grief after her daughter died of a heart attack.
  • A healthy elderly couple who “feared for the future” were euthanized together, killings arranged by their son who said he could not care for them.

This is the consequence of turning doctor-committed homicide/assisted suicide into legal “treatments.” Eventually, the killing takes on a life of its own, and the causes of suffering that qualify one to be made dead never stop expanding.

Politics & Policy

What About Thomas Jefferson?

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A statue of former President Thomas Jefferson in the council chambers of City Hall in New York, N.Y., October 19, 2021 (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

In response to my piece on President Biden’s sweeping pardon of Americans who have been convicted of marijuana possession, a few people have asked me whether it would have been acceptable for President Biden to make this move if he believed that the law in question was unconstitutional.

This is an interesting question, with a complex answer. It’s also irrelevant to this case. Not only did Joe Biden spend his entire career in the Senate writing and voting for federal drug prohibition laws like the one he apparently now disdains, he strongly favors the expansive reading of the Interstate Commerce Clause that is necessary for such laws to be passed by Congress in the first place. As Biden made abundantly clear in his announcement, he is not arguing that the law in question is unconstitutional; he is arguing that it’s a bad idea.

Some of the people who have asked me this question have pointed to Thomas Jefferson, who pardoned many of the people who were convicted under the 1798 Sedition Act, and to Warren Harding, who pardoned many of the people who were convicted under the 1918 Sedition Act. (Maybe we should stop passing Sedition Acts?) But these examples are imperfect, because, (a) they weren’t blanket pardons, and (b) as with the Jimmy Carter case I mentioned in my piece, both came after the laws in question had been repealed (or allowed to expire) by Congress. The 1798 Sedition Act sunsetted the day before Jefferson became president, and the 1918 Sedition Act was repealed in December 1920, before Harding came into office. As such, there existed no real tension between the pardon power and the imperative to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

Jefferson is an interesting case. In explaining his pardons, he did, indeed, make a case against judicial supremacy — writing that “the executive, believing the law to be unconstitutional, was bound to remit the execution of it, because that power has been confided to them by the Constitution.” He also co-wrote the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, which made the case for the nullification of federal laws that the states considered illegal. As historical arguments, these ideas are worthy of consideration, but I . . . er, doubt that they will be invoked any time soon by — or in defense of — President Biden or his broader political movement, and, as such, they don’t seem likely candidates for his defense.

Woody Allen Calls Cancel Culture ‘an Embarrassment,’ Invokes McCarthy Era

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Director Woody Allen attends a news conference for his film Midnight In Paris at the 64th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 11, 2011. (Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters)

Film director Woody Allen has declared that cancel culture is “an embarrassment” and predicted that it would be remembered like the McCarthy era.

In comments made to a Spanish-language publication and translated into English by the film site World of Reel, Allen is quoted as saying:

Well, you know, the human race has consistently behaved stupidly throughout history. Cancel culture is the stupidity of our generation. Time will pass, we will look back and it will happen to us as with the McCarthy era. We will be ashamed of it. And we’ll say to ourselves, “My God, did people really do that

World

OPEC+ Gives Biden the Middle Finger

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The logo of the Organization of the Petroleoum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is seen outside of its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, April 9, 2020. (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

On this week’s second installment of The Editors podcast, Jim reminds us that, contrary to what some news sources may tell you, all is not well when it comes to our fuel supply. “Around August, you could find publications like the New Republic and Politico and Bloomberg all treating the issue of high gas prices like it had been resolved. Keep in mind gas went down to like $3.70 a gallon as the national average — God help you if you’re on the West Coast. That’s lower than the $5 a gallon national average of mid June, but it’s still not a good price.” 

He stresses how the Biden administration refuses to look at reality and simply believes that people are feeling better about the economy: “Biden and the Democrats want people to feel better, ergo they conclude that people are feeling better because gas prices must be going down.”

Earlier this week, when news started to break about OPEC+’s looming production-cut decision, Jim was already sounding the alarm bells. “I’m not an expert on world energy markets, but I know if you reduce supply, prices go up, and even though we produce a lot of our own oil, our prices are influenced by the global market, and that can’t be good news for us.” 

“The Biden administration was going to put a stop to this,” Jim says, pointing out that CNN was reporting how the administration was calling every foreign leader it could and “using every ounce of influence and arm-twisting they had,” but to no avail. “And then the announcement comes out yesterday that no, they’re not going to cut production by a million barrels a day, they’re cutting production by 2 million barrels a day.” 

Now, with the midterms right around the corner, the administration has a major PR problem on its hands. “There’s a guy at GasBuddy who says, ‘Yeah, you’ll probably see prices go up 15–30 cents a gallon,” Jim warns. “Technically the production cut isn’t supposed to go into effect until after November, but you’re gonna feel it sooner.”

What steps should the administration take to fix this? It’s a complicated question, but Jim takes a worthy stab at it, and you can listen to that answer — along with the rest of the show — right here:

Politics & Policy

No, Americans Who Lose Political Debates Are Not Obliged to Shut Up Thereafter

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The Statue of Freedom sits on top of the rotunda of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., August 5, 2021. (Brent Buterbaugh/National Review)

Here’s some choice nonsense from CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere:

You’ll presumably have noticed the use of the phrase “to come home to them,” which, whether Dovere knows it or not, undermines his core insinuation. There is, of course, nothing even remotely hypocritical about people who did not want the federal government to take more money out of the states in the first place (or, if the money was borrowed, to borrow it in their names) subsequently involving themselves in how that money is spent. The idea is ridiculous — as silly as suggesting that someone who believes that healthcare is a state issue, rather than a federal issue, must be quiet about healthcare policy once the federal government has taken over.

Let’s assume that I, a taxpayer in Florida, do not want Congress to pass the Lots of New Bridges Act of 2023. Maybe this is because I think that building bridges is the job of the states. Maybe this is because I want that money to stay in Florida. Maybe this is because I think federal taxes should be lower. Maybe this is because I think that the federal government should be paying down its debt instead. Maybe it’s because I think that the federal government isn’t good at building bridges. Whatever — the reason doesn’t especially matter. The important thing is that I oppose these federal expenditures.

But I lose. Despite my best efforts, Congress passes the bill, and, duly empowered, the executive branch announces its intention to start building bridges around the country — including in Florida. At this point, I’m supposed to shut up because that’s not how I wanted my money to be spent during the previous stage?

Obviously, that’s absurd. That I didn’t want my money to be spent in this way does not mean that it won’t be spent in this way. It will. And, at the point at which it is being spent, I have only two choices: (1) To try to influence how my money is being spent by the federal government, having lost the argument over whether it will be spent by the federal government, or (2) To watch my money being spent silently. To propose that I am under an obligation to take the second course is to suggest that political dissenters are obliged to exile themselves the moment a political dispute doesn’t go their own way.

So, pretty typical for CNN, then.

Politics & Policy

CNN Misrepresents Representative Tom Emmer

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U.S. Representatives Jason Lewis (L) and Tom Emmer (C) speak with Then-President Donald Trump in Minneapolis, October 4, 2018. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

The Minnesota congressman who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee is the lead example of Republican hypocrisy in a CNN story:

Last November, GOP Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota released a statement slamming the passage of the freshly approved infrastructure law he referred to as “President Biden’s multi-trillion dollar socialist wish list.”

Then in June, Emmer – the House Republican campaign chairman leading attacks on Democrats for supporting the law – quietly submitted a wish of his own.

In a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Emmer expressed his hearty support for a multimillion dollar grant to improve part of Highway 65 in his district.

I read that lede and thought, Did Emmer really say that? That seems like a pretty hyperbolic description of a bipartisan infrastructure bill, and that bill didn’t spend multiple trillions of dollars. But politicians are often hyperbolic. So I thought it would be best to check it out.

Turns out that no, he didn’t say that. Here’s what the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported last November:

Republican Rep. Tom Emmer said in a statement that “the House voted on a bill that directs only a fraction of its overall spending towards improving roads and bridges, and lays the groundwork for passage of President Biden’s multi-trillion dollar socialist wish list.”

He wasn’t saying that the bill was a multitrillion-dollar socialist wish list. He was saying that the Build Back Better Act was and that the infrastructure bill made it more likely to pass. And there’s nothing hypocritical about complaining that the infrastructure bill spent too little on improving roads and bridges and then trying to get some of that money spent on roads.

Update: At least two of the other Republican congressmen that CNN is dinging were taken out of context. Reps. Andy Barr (R., Ky.) and Ashley Hinson (R., Ia.) were making the same point as Emmer: The infrastructure bill would help Democrats get their Build Back Better legislation through, which would be a huge advance for big government. They weren’t saying the infrastructure bill itself amounted to socialism.

National Review

Doing Something about the Blind Spots

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(artisteer / iStock / Getty Images)

For 67 years, National Review has given voice to the best conservative opinion and analysis out there. For decades, that opinion and analysis relied almost exclusively on underlying facts supplied by news-gatherers at institutions like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the major broadcast networks.

And that was all well and good — until it wasn’t.

Sure, those institutions still do great reporting, which we rely on to provide you quick updates on the news of the moment, often made available for free in our NRWire section. News editors at the Post and the Times have massive resources available to them — and when they decide they want to get to the bottom of something, they usually can. But there are a great many subjects of interest to conservative Americans that those editors don’t want to explore, leading to massive blind spots in their coverage.

On some topics, such as the harm being done to children in the name of critical gender theory, those blind spots are the product of near-religious ideological fervor. On others, like the refusal to acknowledge the obvious causes of the crime spike we’re living through, they’re willfully imposed out of partisan allegiance.

Whatever the cause, NR’s news team is here to fill the vacuum left by the institutions we used to trust to gather the facts for us.

We had to start doing it ourselves.

That’s why we hired the irrepressible Ryan Mills. Who else was going to expose the degree to which Democratic partisans influenced the Covid regulations that kept your kids out of school — and then kept them masked — for months? Who else was going to make you aware of climate stories that don’t fit neatly within the progressive agenda?

It’s why we hired Caroline Downey, who works full time keeping you up to date on the madness unfolding daily in our nation’s schools — and, occasionally, its prisons.

And, if just getting the facts that are ignored by the mainstream outlets isn’t enough for you, we have Isaac Schorr and Brittany Bernstein keeping those outlets in check when they let their biases lead them around by the nose.

To access those stories, the ones that bring to light new information that you’re not going to get from the major papers and networks, you have to sign up for NRPlus, which is now 60 percent off.

For just eleven cents per day you’ll get a clear-eyed look at our bewildering times. We hope you’ll consider.

Culture

Lincoln Uncanceled: A Small Victory at Cornell

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As noted last month, my alma mater, Cornell, had removed from display at Kroch Library a bust of Abraham Lincoln, as well as a handwritten manuscript of the Gettysburg Address. A professor who noticed the removal was told by librarians that the display had been removed pursuant to a complaint. Cornell administration, on the other hand, claimed that the display was intended to be temporary. But the “temporary” display had been up for nine years.

Cornell’s new chief librarian has ordered reinstatement of the bust — this time in Uris Library, the university’s main library. More than a few of my fellow alums, some of whom are rumored to have relatively healthy bank accounts, had expressed “concern” about the removal of the display from Kroch. I’m going to stop by Uris to verify reinstatement during a reunion of my football teammates the weekend after next.

A tiny victory against the tide of cancellations, but a victory nonetheless. If it can happen in the ultra-woke Ivies, it can happen anywhere. As Ernest Borgnine’s grievously wounded character shouts to his prohibitively outgunned comrades during the climactic gun battle in The Wild Bunch, “Keep fighting!”

Elections

The Legislative Stakes in the Midterms

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My new column:

How much do next month’s elections for the US House and Senate really matter? If merely asking the question sounds like a betrayal of civic duty, it shouldn’t. The cliché is that the next race is always “the most important election of our lifetimes.” But some elections have more far-reaching consequences than others. . . .

This time, though, the stakes are relatively high — because the Democrats have both grand legislative ambitions and possession of the White House. . . .

World

Giorgia Meloni and the Future of European Politics

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Giorgia Meloni appears on election night in Rome, Italy September 26, 2022. (Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters)

When Giorgia Meloni and her coalition partners won the Italian election last week, a clip of her talking about what she stood for went viral. In it, she made clear that she stood for certain identities – identities that are under attack from Italy and Europe’s progressive movements:

Everything that defines us is now an enemy for those who would like us to no longer have an identity and to simply be perfect consumer slaves. And so, they attack national identity, they attack religious identity, they attack gender identity, they attack family identity. I can’t define myself as Italian, Christian, woman, mother. No. I must be citizen x, gender x, parent 1, parent 2. I must be a number. Because when I am only a number, when I no longer have an identity or roots, then I will be the perfect slave at the mercy of financial speculators. The perfect consumer. . . . We will defend God, family, and country.

Meloni’s speech confirmed that the primary issue in politics, the issue which decides the difference between Right and Left, what is termed the aligning issue, is now (in Europe at least) identity. The aligning issue was for many decades economic – the measure of redistribution and the power of the state. Yet since the emergence of the True Finns and other nationalist parties, there has been a rapid swing away from economics as the central question in European politics and towards identity. The new divide initially pitted nationalists (or “somewheres,” as David Goodhart put it) against transnationalists (the “anywheres.”) This divide fueled Brexit.

Yet as Meloni makes clear, that simple divide has accreted many other questions to it, which is what makes it the aligning issue. If you’re against traditional gender identities, you’re on one side. If you’re for traditional religion, you’re on the other. These are all questions of identity one way or the other. So if you’re an anywhere, a member of the laptop class as we might put it, you are in favor of Covid lockdowns, green new deals, and public-private partnerships. If you’re a somewhere, you are worried about your children’s education conflicting with your values, for protectionism and industrial policy, and against welfare cuts.

So much is already well-known, but what Meloni’s statement makes clear is that the somewheres are now deeply distrustful of market liberalism. Where once the principle of consumer sovereignty was seen as strengthening the power of the individual against economic forces far larger than him or her, consumers are now viewed as little more than a puppet of those forces, compelled to give their meager incomes to megacorporations that have no local roots. (Indeed, a shift of focus from consumer to producer — in opposition to what Adam Smith taught us — is increasingly characteristic of conservative economics.)

Of course, there is a history of such suspicion in continental Europe, which sadly often manifested itself in antisemitism. It is a short journey from “financial speculators” to “rootless cosmopolitans” and other code words with dangerous consequences.

Meanwhile, on the other side, there is much more of an embrace of markets, but as tools towards an end rather than discovery devices (a Blairite view of markets, in other words.) Thus, the liberal Free Democrats are welcome coalition partners in Germany with the Social Democrats and the Greens. Indeed, Emmanuel Macron, of all people, might be seen as the champion of European market liberalism. God help us.

This takeover of market economics by the Left, of course, comes at a heavy price. Central insights like the seen and the unseen or that of Economics in One Lesson are forgotten. Everything becomes technocratic. Regulation is not a dirty word. And so on. This move helps explain the reaction of “markets” to Liz Truss’ “mini-budget” in the UK (I’ll have more to say on that at Capital Matters soon.)

So, despite Meloni’s admirable opposition to the wokification of Europe, we need to keep an eye on her economic policies. By all accounts, she may be persuaded that markets are not the enemy (Alberto Mingardi calls her economic policies “vague but not insensible.”) For the moment, the question is on which side of the aligning divide market economics will fall. For the sake of our children, and for the sake of our heritage of liberty, we cannot allow it to fall on the wrong side here.

World

CCP to Pompeo: Sit Down and Shut Up

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Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., January 12, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/Reuters)

The Chinese Communist Party wants Mike Pompeo to put a sock in it. On Tuesday, the Washington-based Hudson Institute received a letter urging the termination of the production of videos critical of the regime featuring the erstwhile secretary of state. The videos “made groundless accusations against the Communist Party of China,” the Chinese embassy wrote in an indignant missive that Pompeo shared on Twitter.

It looks like the splenetic totalitarians in Beijing won’t tolerate even the slightest hint of opposition to their rule, even when it comes from overseas. But the petulant mandarins can’t silence the stiff-necked Kansan. About the possibility of his backing down, Pompeo said that it “ain’t gonna happen.”

The Hudson Institute isn’t bending the knee to the apparatchiks either. John Walters, the think tank’s president, responded to the letter, saying, “the genocidal CPP is the oppressor of the Chinese people & an enemy of free people around the globe. The Chinese people know this & the American people know it. As a wise man once said, ‘facts are stubborn things.’ No one at Hudson is intimidated by this.”

This is a welcome sign. While a solid bipartisan consensus has formed around confronting our chief geopolitical adversary, too many of our nation’s top brass still yielded to the will of the PRC. Even some prominent conservatives have begun to sound a strangely conciliatory tone. It’s high time politicians and thought leaders gave the ChiComms the boot.

Politics & Policy

Armageddon Is Coming, but It’s Time for Another Weekend in Delaware

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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden takes a bite of an ice cream cone at the Cone Shoppe during a two-day campaign kickoff in Monticello, Iowa, April 30, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

As discussed at length in today’s Morning Jolt, last night President Biden told Democratic donors at the Manhattan home of James and Kathryn Murdoch that the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” is at the highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, because of the war in Ukraine.

This morning, the White House released Biden’s schedule for the day. He will tour Volvo Group Powertrain Operations in Hagerstown, Md., shortly after noon, and then give remarks on “building the economy.” From there Biden will travel to Philadelphia, and then he will go to Wilmington, Del., where he will remain over the weekend.

Does that seem like the schedule of a president who is facing down “Armageddon”?

We’ve all gotten used to Biden blurting out cringe-inducing things that don’t make a lot of sense, whether it’s wondering where a deceased congresswoman is, or claiming that he used to drive a tractor-trailer, or rambling about how many interracial couples he sees in commercials these days, or that he “was sort of raised in the Puerto Rican community at home, politically,” or that oil slicks on car windshields gave him cancer, and so on.

But the one last night is different. The president — the lone American official with the authority to launch nuclear weapons — isn’t supposed to just casually mention that the world could be headed to a world-ending nuclear exchange, in between requests for donations at a party fundraiser. A president’s words carry weight in a way that a vice president’s or a senator’s do not, and as Phil Klein observed in April, Biden just can’t make the adjustment. Maybe Biden was just venting his anxieties. Perhaps the most troubling interpretation is that Biden’s most recent briefing from the intelligence community included something particularly ominous.

Either way, the message from the White House today seems to be a very Emily Litella-esque “never mind.”

Economy & Business

Today in Capital Matters: Deficits

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Jack Salmon writes that Biden’s claims to fiscal responsibility don’t hold up:

The Congressional Budget Office projected combined deficit spending for financial years (FY) 2021 and 2022 to be around $3.3 trillion. Actual budget deficits during this period are already over $3.7 trillion, and FY 2022 isn’t over yet. In other words, the Biden administration exceeded the baseline estimates by more than $400 billion.

The reality of the nation’s fiscal condition discredits Biden’s deficit-reduction boast. Deficits are trillions of dollars larger due to enacted legislation and executive actions of the Biden administration.

Read the whole thing here.